OPINION | FRONT BURNER: Vegetal flavor shines in burnt okra

Fried Potatoes With Burnt Okra and Corn (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)

Potatoes and okra cooked together in an iron skillet until the potatoes are golden and the okra is nearly burnt is my favorite way to eat okra.

I won't go as far as saying it is the only way to eat okra — pickled is pretty darn good and pickled-and-fried is even better — but this preparation is my favorite. Almost all of the okra's infamous mucilage cooks away, letting its nutty, vegetal flavor shine. The potatoes — russets, red-skinned or gold, your pick — add textural contrast with their crusty exteriors and creamy tender insides. If I'm using russet potatoes I peel them, otherwise I give them a good scrub and leave the skin on. I use the smallest okra pods I can find — no longer than my index finger, but pinky length is ideal. The smaller pods are more tender and less slimy.

In this version I add the kernels from an ear of sweet corn just because. The corn adds a touch of sweetness in tiny juicy bursts. I meant to include a sliced jalapeno for heat, but I forgot. Next time I won't forget.

The servings are sized as a side dish, but I can (and often do) make this my meal. To up the protein, adding some shrimp would be great, but I especially like it topped with a fried egg.

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Fried Potatoes With Burnt Okra and Corn

  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 to 2 cups sliced okra
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 cups diced potatoes (about 12 ounces)
  • ½ small onion, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Kernels from 1 ear fresh corn OR ¾ cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1 jalapeno, sliced, optional

Heat enough oil to generously coat the bottom in a deep skillet over medium heat. Add the okra and season with salt and pepper. Cook until okra is beginning to brown. Push okra to one side of skillet, and add the potatoes and onion. Season again with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until okra is deep, golden brown and potatoes are tender. Stir in the garlic, corn and jalapeno (if using) and cook just until the corn kernels are lightly browned.

Makes 4 servings.